Kuala Lumpur – The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM), a national body representing doctors in private practice in Malaysia, today announced that it will be organising its first tobacco harm reduction (THR) education series starting in November.
Themed TOBACCO HARM REDUCTION: THE MALAYSIAN CONTEXT, the education series is aimed at members of the scientific, public health and medical community, and designed to facilitate exchange of ideas, knowledge, research findings and recommendations for the adoption of THR in Malaysia.
Dr Steven Chow, President of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM), said, “All medical practitioners are aware that cigarette smoking remains the single most important avoidable cause of death in the developed world. We also know that smokers of any age can achieve substantial health benefits by quitting. In fact, no other single public health effort is likely to achieve a benefit comparable to large-scale smoking cessation.”
“Multiple surveys, local and international, have revealed that the majority of smokers would like to quit, and many have made repeated efforts to do so. In addition to existing tobacco control initiatives, we can benefit from exploring new, innovative solutions such as THR.”
In addition to creating a platform to discuss THR, this education series is also aligned with the Ministry of Health’s call for smart collaborations with non-governmental organisations (NGO) and private agencies, as listed within the National Strategic Plan for the Control of Tobacco & Smoking Products 2021-2030.
“Through this education series, our aim is to initiate national discussion where all parties can discuss and disseminate information from a public health perspective on THR, and how best to move forward from scientific, public health, regulatory and social perspectives,” Dr Chow added.
The educational series will kick off with the Smoking Cessation Organisation, Planning and Execution (SCOPE) course organised by University Malaya Centre of Addiction Sciences (UMCAS) on Sunday, 14 October 2021.
On the announcement of a tax framework for nicotine vape at the 2022 Budget tabling, Dr Chow said, “The decision by the Government to expand the taxation framework for vape need to be supported by strict regulations to be immediately put in place.”
“The taxation levels for THR products in Malaysia must remain risk-proportionate, benchmarked against high-risk products such as cigarettes. Evidence on risks must be studied and this data can be used to determine the level of restrictions that need to be implemented.”
“Annually, Malaysia spends billions of Ringgit in treating smoking-related illnesses. By implementing THR strategies, the country will be able to reduce cigarette smoking-related illnesses, which will save money used for treating these diseases. Whether this will be replaced with an increased cost to treat other nicotine-related morbidity needs to be examined closely.”
In conjunction with the education series, FPMPAM also issued its position statement on THR which underlines strategies, goals and economic considerations on THR.